Dubai: Australia may have just won the ICC Test Championship mace but India can topple them from the number one spot if they are able to blank the West Indies 4-0 in the ongoing series and results in the other two marquee series go as per their wish.
If India win 4-0, England-Pakistan series ends in a draw and Sri Lanka win by 1-0 or better, then India will jump to the number one position, the ICC said in a statement today.
India thrashed the West Indies by an innings and 92 runs in the first Test in Antigua.
To permanently shut the door on their nearest rivals India, Australia need to beat Sri Lanka by 1-0 or better and at the same time hope that England win, at least, one Test against Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Australia captain Steve Smith today received the ICC Test Championship mace and USD 1 million in prize money for leading his side to the number one ranking on the MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankings on the annual 1 April cut-off date.
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson made the presentations to Smith in Pallekele, who captained Australia to 10 Test victories over the 12-month period.
"The mace is a symbol of excellence and recognition of a side's outstanding achievement in the toughest format of the sport. Australia's winning performances have been exceptional and they thoroughly deserve to be awarded the mace," said Richardson.
"These are exciting times for Test cricket as the top four ranked countries are involved in high profile series across three different continents showcasing the very best this format of the sport has to offer. I am sure the incentive of achieving the number one ranking will further motivate them, bringing out the best in the players," added Richardson.
Smith paid tribute to his side, saying: "It is a huge honour to be the number one ranked Test side in the world and the credit should go to all the work the players and support staff have put in over the last 12 months.
"I am really proud of our young team and what we have accomplished so far but there is still more we would like to achieve. We now need to put in consistent performances, both at home and away, to continue to be successful and keep the number one ranking.
"Winning away from home has often been a challenge for us, especially in sub-continental conditions, but this is something we are looking to change in this upcoming series against Sri Lanka," concluded Smith, who won the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for the ICC Cricketer of the Year in 2015.
Competition for the number one ranking this year remains extremely tight as only 10 points separate the top four sides. Second-ranked India, third-ranked Pakistan and fourth-ranked England have a chance to move into the top spot, depending on how West Indies-India, England-Pakistan and Sri Lanka-Australia series pan out.
If Pakistan beat England and Sri Lanka defeat Australia, then Pakistan will claim the number one ranking for the first time in their history, irrespective of how the West Indies-India series finishes.
England too can top the Test rankings. But to make it happen, it will have to win the remaining three Tests against Pakistan and hope West Indies win, at least, one Test against India and Sri Lanka beat Australia.